Thursday, April 24, 2014

Let's Try to Prevent More Victims: Choose When, Where & With Whom You Drink to Excess

Let's face it:  in the positive spirit of "not blaming the victim", we may be missing the opportunity to prevent future assaults by educating people about the latest research connecting behavior and opportunity to the frequency of assaults. Much like you might decide to take a taxi rather than walk home alone after a "night out with the girls", intelligently choosing when, where and with whom you drink to excess just might keep you from being the victim of an assault.

College Women: Stop Getting Drunk
by Emily Yoffe via

"A 2009 study of campus sexual assault found that by the time they are seniors, almost 20 percent of college women will become victims, overwhelmingly of a fellow classmate. Very few will ever report it to authorities. The same study states that more than 80 percent of campus sexual assaults involve alcohol. Frequently both the man and the woman have been drinking. The men tend to use the drinking to justify their behavior, as this survey of research on alcohol-related campus sexual assault by Antonia Abbey, professor of psychology at Wayne State University, illustrates, while for many of the women, having been drunk becomes a source of guilt and shame. Sometimes the woman is the only one drunk and runs into a particular type of shrewd—and sober—sexual predator who lurks where women drink like a lion at a watering hole. For these kinds of men, the rise of female binge drinking has made campuses a prey-rich environment. I’ve spoken to three recent college graduates who were the victims of such assailants, and their stories are chilling.

Let’s be totally clear: Perpetrators are the ones responsible for committing their crimes, and they should be brought to justice. But we are failing to let women know that when they render themselves defenseless, terrible things can be done to them. Young women are getting a distorted message that their right to match men drink for drink is a feminist issue. The real feminist message should be that when you lose the ability to be responsible for yourself, you drastically increase the chances that you will attract the kinds of people who, shall we say, don’t have your best interest at heart. That’s not blaming the victim; that’s trying to prevent more victims."
Read the entire article here>>

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Review: When Dating Becomes Dangerous

As a parent myself, I understand how difficult it can be to talk to your children about dating and sex, not to mention abuse or rape. But we must remember that we are our child’s most important advocate and these challenging conversations are vitally important to our child’s healthy sexual and emotional development.
  • So, exactly how do you explain to your teen that excessive anger, coercion, violence or abuse are NOT signs of love?
  • How do you model personal boundaries and healthy relationships?
  • How do you explain date/acquaintance rape?
  • What are the warning signs that your teen is in an abusive relationship?
  • How do you communicate the warning signs to your teen BEFORE he/she begins dating?
  • What do you do and say if your teen is the abuser?
  • When do you take action to help your child who is in an abusive relationship?
  • Why do teens stay in abusive relationships and how can you help your child break up with an abuser?
  • When do you need to get outside help and where can you turn?
If you need specific information and guidance on these topics and more, look no further than the new book When Dating Becomes Dangerous: A Parent’s Guide to Preventing Relationship Abuse. The authors are parents and experts in this field. Patti Occhiuzzo Giggans, MA, is the executive director of Peace Over Violence, a national organization that provides education, advocacy, and intervention on the issues of sexual and personal violence. Barrie Levy, MSW, is the author of several books on teen dating violence including In Love and in Danger: A Teen’s Guide to Breaking Free of Abusive Relationships.

When Dating Becomes Dangerous is easy to read, informative, and an excellent source of conversation starters. The many case studies, specific examples, checklists, anecdotes, and detailed responses to interviews with parents and teens provide topics for conversations and encourage you to help your teen think about her/his own experiences as well as definitions of abusive behavior and healthy relationships. The chapter on “Strengthening Your Relationship With Your Teen” can help you set your own boundaries, understand your feelings, accept your teen’s right to make choices, and, especially, learn how to listen and engage your teen effectively. The book also includes information on technology abuse, same-sex relationships, working through the break-up process, and how to use the legal system should it become necessary.

According to the authors, “What we address are the contradictions in the way men and boys have been raised and the way that women and girls have been taught to deal with relationships. We want families to have conscious conversations about what is expected in intimate relationships, rather than going by social or cultural platitudes. There is a difference in feeling angry and making somebody suffer because of it. We are teaching ways to handle frustration in productive manners instead of using violence.”

Want to know more? Listen to an interview with the authors in this podcast from February 2014 or purchase the book on Amazon

Thursday, April 10, 2014

I Heart Libraries

As a writer, I appreciate everyone who reads my words. As a reader, I love the experience of being lost in the characters, the story, and the details of another's life. As a parent, I know how valuable the love of reading can be to a child as he grows. As a citizen, I am pleased that some of my tax dollars go to supporting valuable resources like our public libraries.

The popularity of libraries seems to wax and wane...and I'm sure you've heard the recent rumblings about e-books being the demise of libraries. According to The Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project’s Reading Habits in Different Communities report: "City dwellers were most attached to their libraries: 71 percent say the library is important to them, and 59 percent have library cards. While slightly fewer suburbanites, 69 percent, say the library is important, slightly more have cards, at 61 percent. Some 62 percent of rural residents say the library is important and 48 percent have cards."

In honor of National Library Week this week, I want to share some of my favorite things to do at my local library.
  • Catch up on current events with The Week magazine
  • Find a book about local history
  • Stand in the back and eavesdrop on the children enjoying storytime
  • Trace my family tree
  • Be inspired to try a new author or genre
  • Check out a DVD on gardening
  • Listen to beautiful music on a CD
  • Donate my used books for the library's book sale
  • Learn  a new language
  • Take a class or listen to a lecture
There are simply too many wonderful things to do and learn at the library! What are some of your favorites?

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Be a Resource for a Teen to Encourage Healthy Sexual Development

Did you know that April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “In the United States, 1 in 5 women and 1 in 71 men have been raped in their lifetime and nearly 1 in 2 women and 1 in 5 men have experienced other forms of sexual violence at some point in their lives.” Sadly, most “sexual contact without consent” experiences happen before a teen’s 18th birthday.

 This year’s Sexual Assault Awareness Month campaign focuses on healthy sexuality in teens as a way to prevent sexual assault: “Your Voice. Our Future. Prevent Sexual Violence.”  It’s all about teens understanding what a healthy sexual relationship looks like and who to turn to when you have questions or need help. It’s trusting in your ability to make your own decisions about your body and how to express yourself to your partner. It’s setting personal boundaries and respecting the boundaries of others. It’s understanding your rights and responsibilities in a relationship. It’s knowing how to separate fact from fiction in the messages you receive from peers, the media, and the internet. It’s finding adults and community resources you can trust.

How can YOU be a resource for a teen in your life?
  • Model healthy sexuality and relationships
  • Listen more and talk less
  • Believe what your teen is sharing about sexual relationships and any problems
  • Find ways to casually chat about the negative messages teens receive from the media and peers
  • Explain how to set personal boundaries and respect the boundaries of others
  • Be sure the teen knows what consent means and how to handle uncomfortable or difficult situations
  • Share age-appropriate information about dating, contraception, STIs, date rape, domestic violence, and relationships
  • Find out more: Overview of Adolescent Sexual Development (PDF) and for teens Safe Sex(uality): Talking About What You Need and Want (PDF)
If you or someone you know needs help: Call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1.800.656.HOPE for free, confidential, 24/7 assistance. You can also speak to someone via the National Sexual Assault Online Hotline 

If you are supporting someone who has experienced sexual assault: the RAINN (Rape, Abuse &Incest National Network) website has information on how to help a loved one and tips for family and friends of survivors

DenimDay is Wednesday, April 23, 2014! Wear jeans to school, work, or around town to help raise awareness about the misconceptions surrounding sexual assault.